“OK Stupid’s Secret Math Lab” is the Capital Fringe Festival show that Amy Webb doesn’t want you to see. In her 2013 online-dating polemic, “Data: A Love Story,” Webb asserts that many women don’t meet a match online because they’re worried about the wrong details on maybe-Mr. Right’s profile page. In “OK Stupid,” first-time local playwright Erin Bylander suggests that the problem isn’t picky daters, but the socially awkward math geeks crunching the numbers.
And so, when the protagonist singleton Lucy logs on to create her “OK Stupid” profile, she is asked, among other things, whether she’d date a guy who “really, really likes Legos.”
Lucy (the droll, likeable Colleen Sproull) begins her adventures in online dating when she’s home doing laundry one night and gets distracted by her friend’s Facebook engagement announcement. She clicks on an ad for “OK Stupid” — a pun on the free matchmaking Web site “OK Cupid” — and out pops a tech-savvy gay fairy godmother wearing a neatly pressed turquoise button-down and pinstripe pants.
Careful costuming is one of several visual details that elevate “OK Stupid” above comparable Fringe comedies. The humanoid programmers all wear glasses and shades of blue and gray, while Lucy and her dates don orange. The props in Lucy’s apartment (mostly discarded lingerie and back issues of Cosmo) neatly tuck into set pieces that become workstations in the “math lab.” The lighting is elaborate and effective, and rather than carry around laptops, computer screens are conveyed by having the actors stare out at the audience while clicking a mouse.
The most engaging scenes find Lucy attempting to “chat” with potential matches, including Donta Hensley as a horny Quiznos sandwich artist who prompts her to control-alt-delete. Tice Rust plays a “97 percent match” Lucy eventually dumps because he likes Mexican food and spends too much talking to Mom.
The play loses mojo when the characters debate whether a 100 percent match exists and math is the right mechanism to find one. Despite having a character named Al Gorithm, nobody’s spouting equations in the math lab. Bylander could punch up the dialogue a bit with talk of actual algorithms and Fibonacci numbers.
Not everything in “OK Stupid” adds up, but at Fringe, a clever script plus solid acting plus high do-it-yourself production values always equal a potential match.
Ritzel is a freelance writer.
Through July 28 at Fort Fringe Bedroom, 612 L St. NW. Go to www.capfringe.org.